Philosophy of Case
In the modern world of possibilities and technologies, different incidents and cases are becoming a casual thing. The problem is the explanation of the events, since the contemporary philosophical theories try to connect these cases with the style of life, personal perception, behavior, and other issues that form a background for the ethical life of the world. However, the system of human existence depends more on the collision of interests. For instance, the tragedy, of DC-10 airlines caused the death of innocent people just because of the human failure, rooted in greediness. Thus, it is difficult to determine an ethical algorithm of the life, because it is hard to define what is morally good and what is bad. The philosophy of utilitarianism proposes a kind of calculation that can help to solve some dilemmas. Although, the DC-10 case seems to be unpredicted and concerns technical issues, the theory of utilitarianism proposes a calculation that could have been used to avoid the tragedy.
Utilitarianism is a philosophical doctrine of consequential dependence, which is based on a theoretical evaluation of the actions. In other words, the theory proposes ideas that can help to predict possible events with the goal of avoiding some tragedies or any other undesirable events. Ethics is a set of personal behavior patterns that aim to attain a certain goal. Ethical egoism is related to the self-centered attitude towards the issues. It aims to find a solution that is comfortable or profitable for a person. However, utilitarianism is a concept that is opposite to egoism because it was derived from the idea of disinterestedness, and interest in this context is presented as pleasure. Thus, the essence of utilitarianism lies in proving pleasure and happiness for people around. It is necessary to sacrifice personal benefits in order to make a group of people happy. “Happiness is the ultimate end of all our activity as the standard of the ethical evolution” (Birsch, 2006). The intentions of those people, who want to reach only material goals, do not have any value. Thus, the objects that want to earn money from particular situations will never be happy. These faulty ideas are illustrated by the example of incidents, when human greediness prevailed over Utilitarian ethical conception.
McDonnell Douglas Company introduced a new type of DC-10 aircraft. The plane had characteristics and the construction of a large military machine, designed for the huge cargo transportation. However, the idea of competition made managers of the company apply quite an extraordinary design for a civilian use. That new type of the plane certainly had many advantages in the market of huge-body aircrafts. However, American Airlines suffered from an accident during the flight over Windsor, when a cargo door collapsed and damaged the cabin floor (“Understanding ethical problem,” n. d.). The pilot coped with the problem and safely landed. The same accident happened in 1974 during the flight of Turkish Airlines (“Understanding ethical problem,” n. d.). The door collapsed and consequently the uncontrollable plane crashed. All the passengers died. The catastrophe happened in result of a mechanical failure. The design of the cargo door and floor did not correspond to the civilian transportation requirements. In fact, it was not actually a failure, because managers of the company decided to save some money. The mechanics of the crew were informed about the situation. Nevertheless, the crash happened again in 1979, and the responsibility for it was placed on the design of DC-10 (“Understanding Ethical problem,” n. d.). Therefore, the company changed the title and initiated the construction of new crafts, since they recognized the weakness of the cargo doors mechanism.
The incident with the DC-10 can be classified as an example of ethical egoism, since the leaders of the company understood the threat and the risk of a failure. They satisfied only their personal needs, wanted to save money, and did not take into consideration human life and safety. Thus, the managers of the company cared only about their personal happiness and pleasure. In fact, it necessary to admit that all the tragedies could have been predicted. The first essential factor is an experimental flight that examines the level of danger. According to the utilitarian theory, pleasure and happiness of a group of people is more important than the benefits of a single person. The mechanics also knew the situation but did not change anything, because they are completely dependable on their bosses. However, losing a job is less depressing than killing 300 or even 600 people. This is the second factor. The third factor confirms the fact that this terrible failure could have been calculated and predicted. In 1972, the flight over Windsor served as an ethical notification. Pilots landed the plane successfully and it is hard to understand what the McDonnell’s opinion about it was. It is obvious that there was some personal profit in it. The problem is that they killed 600 innocent people just because of money and some doubtful feelings of pleasure or happiness. Utilitarianism identifies such behavior as egoism. The first tragic incident of the Turkish Airlines should have illustrated the problem to leaders in order to make them act. In fact, the company’s prevailing goal was to achieve the instrumental pleasure, represented by financial benefits and happiness of the managers. John Stuart Mill (2006) concludes that, “Utilitarian morality does recognize in human beings the power of scarifying their own greatest good for the good of others.” Consequently, ethics deals not only with business behavior and attitude but also with necessary measures that should be taken to predict incidents.
The majority of cases are rooted in the wrong calculation of possible pleasure and happiness. Matti Hayry (1994) is convinced that people cannot estimate the real amount of pleasure or pain they can experience in result of their choice. Thus, the notion of pleasure can be not only relative but also oppositional, as it depends on human understanding. For instance, the aircraft company considers personal pleasure, but does not realize that it can cause the pain of 600 people. Thus, Bentham proposes a new theory of morality that can adequately calculate the possible results of some actions. The pleasure of earning money is material, as it involves satisfying the physical needs of the body. However, according to utilitarianism, mental pleasure is more important (“Calculating consequences: The utilitarian approach to ethics,” n. d.). Mental pleasure enables you to achieve total happiness. It is possible to assume that the director of the company could achieve success and earn money but still feel unhappy because of being guilty in death of innocent people. The essence of this theory lies in human existence, and it can be evaluated through some calculation. People can estimate it because they are able to develop a chain of events (“Utilitarianism,” 2016). An animal cannot do that, so it can understand only body pleasure. However, pleasure and happiness are unique notions that are not dependable upon people. Utilitarian method proposes a plan for implementing and achieving the highest pleasure and happiness.
The cases of DC-10 could have been omitted with the help of right calculation. Managers should identify all potential consequences of the actions that they can take. Although additional system of doors protection is quite expensive, a crash of a plane can be more costly. Thus, it is necessary to identify several solutions regarding each issue. The boss should take into consideration all things that can be affected because all of them require particular actions that may lead to happiness. The leaders of the company have to analyze all possible ways of the action development, and define those, which have the biggest potential of maximizing happiness. The theory of utilitarianism seems to be quite appropriate for the contemporary model of ethics and it does not contradict human rights. It is an effective method to achieve happiness and pleasure for the majority of people by sacrificing some less important elements.
Utilitarianism promotes the predominance of positive outcomes over the harmful ones. Thus, the tragedy could have been omitted in case of implementation of the utilitarian ethical theory. Nevertheless, the calculation of some costs is extremely complicated or even impossible. It concerns the assessment of the value of human life, money, time, or dignity. Moreover, the estimation of all consequences of the actions is impossible as well. It seems that the circumstances of the DC-10 tragedy are on the surface, and it is hard to understand why managers decided to save money and sacrifice human lives. Perhaps, there was a fatal mistake in the process of assessment. Certainly, this aspect of the events is related to the issue of justice. However, there are several factors confirming the fact that the company neglected human lives.
In conclusion, the incident with DC-10 illustrates the idea of ethical egoism. There are many facts that confirm that managers intentionally ignored technical requirements of the flight safety. Egoism encouraged them to make a wrong decision, which became the reason of two aircraft crashes and led to the death of more than 600 people. The facts prove that there were several possibilities to predict the catastrophe. However, McDonnell decided to save money, because of the misinterpretation of the real essence of pain and happiness. The theory of utilitarianism suggests the system of ethical norms, which can help to predict and calculate the possible consequences, but it also mentions that some incidents seem to be uncontrolled. According to these ideas, the case of DC-10 could be correctly evaluated. Managers intentionally failed the process for their personal benefits. The system of evaluation is quite simple. It is necessary to define all ways of the action development and take into consideration all risk factors as well as possible profits. It is essential to find a right direction of the action in order to make the majority of people happy.